NOW, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is trying to make us believe that a change in the programming script of the transparency server on May 9, when the poll body was already transmitting election results from the Vote Counting Machines, was just “cosmetic.”
The transparency server, which is owned by the Comelec, transmitted the unofficial ballot tallies during last week’s polls.
The Comelec made an admission of the move made by Smartmatic—the technology provider for the 2016 local and national polls—on May 14, or a good five days after the hotly contested electoral exercise was concluded.
Had the camp of vice-presidential frontrunner Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. not exposed the apparent sleight-of-hand performed by the technology provider, supposedly without the approval of the Comelec before the unsuspecting among non-netizens, the carnival trick would have been dismissed as just another conjuring up made easy by a magician.
The apparent alteration, in particular, allowed the system to recognize the “ñ” in the names of the candidates instead of projecting the character “?” and Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista promptly assured that no cheating occurred when the programming script was changed by Smartmatic.
Toeing Bautista’s line was poll body Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who thanked the heavens that the change supposedly did not result in any corruption of the Automated Election System (AES) and the outcome itself of the elections.
How would Bautista and Guanzon know that no fraud transpired, when they are not known to be IT experts?
Or if they are, then they have to explain why no hanky-panky, as they claimed on whose authority nobody knows, took place, particularly just as when Marcos was leading Liberal Party vice-presidential bet Leni Robredo by a million votes until 10 p.m. of Monday, Election Day, only for his numbers, after an hour, to begin sliding down at regular rate of 1 to 2 percent every succeeding update.
Bautista and Guanzon should have kicked off their explanation with how Smartmatic, a Venezuelan firm whose people from the CEO down to the Xerox operator, it is perfectly safe to presume, speak Spanish, could have forgotten to differentiate the “n” from the “ñ” when what is now Latin America has been taught the language by Spanish colonizers since more than 500 years ago.
Smartmatic, after all, had all of six years (from 2010 when it also handled the mid-term elections in that year) to figure out all possible flaws in the technology it was providing the Comelec for this year’s synchronized polls.
Or if the “n” and “ñ” to-do was just “cosmetic,” why bother with it at all when there would be no love lost between the Marcos camp and both the Comelec and the Catholic Church-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) if Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia just let a sleeping dog lie?
Garcia must have had a motive for making a mountain out of a molehill, despite saying in geeky jargon that he meant no harm to the AES.
Or perhaps he just wanted to dirty his hands with the best clay to bring with him to his pottery classes?
Through an apparent diversionary tactic, Guanzon has not been addressing doubts of the Marcos camp on the honesty of last week’s elections, also apparently preferring to harp instead on how Smartmatic “breached protocol” by its unilateral decision to introduce the new script.
“Apparently, the execution of this computer command [new script]was able to alter the hash codes of the packet data,” according to Francesca Huang, a lawyer and a member of Marcos’ legal team.
Guanzon, no matter her reported anger over the unilateral changing of the script by Garcia, apparently abetted by a Comelec IT personnel who had given the Smartmatic guy the other half of the password to introduce the software, was apparently playing it safe when she said protocol was breached, instead of saying the AES Law either was violated or not violated.
The poll body ordering Smartmatic to stay away from the official vote-counting center Philippine International Convention Center as a result of Garcia’s faux pas did not help any the removal of the electorate’s doubt on the integrity of the polls, especially the vice-presidential race.
Election lawyer Manuelito Luna said the Venezuelan firm violated Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Law and the Omnibus Election Code with respect to the rights of political candidates and political parties.
The “essential point” is not that the change was “minor” or “cosmetic,” according to Rene Azurin, convenor of the poll watchdog Automated Election System (AES) Watch, the “crucial” issue being the fact that someone from Smartmatic had access to the server program while the tallying of votes was going on.
If that person can change one character, in this case the “n” to “ñ,” Azurin said, then he can change other things as well and the AES Watch convenor can only surmise that the “cosmetic” change could have been intentionally made to act as a “trigger to launch a sleeping worm or Trojan horse already embedded in the system and programmed to make major changes, including the altering of vote counts.”
Come now, children, before we drown in techno mumbo-jumbo, the point is that the maliit na bagay for the Comelec, Smartmatic and PPCRV is malaking bagay para kay Bongbong—and not only for supporters of the senator but also for the entire electorate who had wanted and prayed for the recent elections to be entirely fraud-free, no ifs and buts.